Friday, June 2, 2017

Proverbs 14:11: The Hidden Resurrection Life of the Believer

Proverbs 14:11 
The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
    but the tent of the upright will flourish.
I agree with John Kitchen, that this proverb "points to final outcomes."[1]  Proverbs are always ultimately true.[2]  Some commentators deny the proverbs make anything more than general promises, but this is because they fail to believe the proverbs ever speak of eschatology or "final outcomes," as Kitchen puts it.  Their unbelief stems from a failure to understand the hope that Abraham and his spiritual descendants had; a failure to read Proverbs in the light of the New Testament; and the truth that the Old Testament was, strangely enough, written for new covenant believers more than it was for those under the old covenant:

"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through    endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."   (Romans 15:4) "I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints." (Colossians 1:25-26) "It was revealed to them [the Old Testament prophets] that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look." (1 Peter 1:12)

The verb "will flourish" in line two, fills us with images of Spring.  Derek Kidner says, "Flourish is an energetic word in Hebrew, suggesting a tree bursting into bud."[3]  Since "will flourish" is parallel to "will be destroyed," it is reasonable to see both verbs as pointing to final outcomes.  As we have learned, in parallelism, each parallel is to be projected into the other.  This is what makes parallelism so instructive.  In this particular instance, the idea of budding points us to a resurrection. 

The bodies of believers in this age are compared by the apostle to tents.  We long in these tents, i.e., our bodies, to put on our heavenly bodies, for these present tents are wearing out:

"For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building    from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we    groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not   be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that    we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is     mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee." (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)

But notice that the Spirit is given to us as a guarantee of future resurrection.  The Spirit who dwells in believers is the Spirit of the age to come.  He is the Spirit of the future.  He is the Spirit of the resurrection age.  Therefore, the flourishing of believers begins in this life.  While outwardly our bodies decay, inwardly our spirits are beginning to flourish with the resurrection life that flows from our resurrected and ascended Lord.  Already in this present evil age, believers are beginning to experience the resurrection age to come.

It is at this point, Harry Ironside, the pastor of Moody Bible Church from 1929-1948, makes an insightful comment.  He writes, "The pilgrim's tent wherein the upright tabernacles as he journeys through a foreign scene --- foreign to the new nature within him --- will abide and flourish till tenting days are over."[4]  I don't think Ironside is saying the believer will enjoy perfect health in this life.  But what he is saying is that the new nature we are given by the Spirit is foreign to the spirit of this world, which is passing away.  The believer who has the Spirit of the age to come within him enjoys a secret communion with the Lord that the worldling, the unbeliever, who lives for this life only, knows nothing about (cf. Proverbs 3:32; Matthew 6:6).  The resurrection life is already flowing within us because we are the branches joined to Jesus Christ, the resurrected Lord, who is the vine (John 15). 

Amazingly, this is what the Spirit of God was indicating (see 1 Peter 1:10-11) to the inspired Old Testament writers, who were speaking about the age to come and the new covenant age we live in as believers.  While outwardly, believers partake of the disease and death that characterize this present evil age that rejects God and his Son, inwardly, away from the blinded eyes of a world focused on this world only, the resurrected Christ already is giving his spiritually poor the life and spiritual wealth of the age to come.  But it is not seen yet outwardly, for in this life the resurrection life is hidden and waiting its revelation at the coming of Jesus Christ.  Thus, believers walk by faith and not sight, but that walk can be a flourishing and joyful one even in a world that's dying because of its unbelief.



[1] Kitchen, Proverbs, 307.
[2] Daniel L. Akin and Jonathan Akin.  Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary: Exalting Jesus in Proverbs, 19.
[3] Kidner, Proverb, 102.
[4] Ironside, Proverbs, 163.

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